26017

History, 1834–1836


Editorial Note
As explained previously, Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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apparently wrote the entry for 5 December 1834 sometime between the meeting held that evening and the related meeting held the following day. This promptness suggests that Cowdery’s entry for the 6 December 1834 meeting was likewise written the day of that meeting or shortly thereafter. The blank pages between the 6 December entry and the next section of the history were likely reserved for further historical entries, but no similar contemporaneous entries were made here or anywhere else in the history.

Chapter 1.

5 December 1834 • Friday

Friday Evening, December 5, 1834. According to the direction of the Holy Spirit, President Smith, assistant Presidents, [Sidney] Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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and [Frederick G.] Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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, assembled for the purpose of ordaining first High Counsellor [Oliver] Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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to the office of assistant President of the High and Holy Priesthood in the Church of the Latter-Day Saints.
It is necessary, for the special benefit of the reader, that he be instructed into, or concerning the power and authority of the above named Priesthood.
First. The office of the President is to preside over the whole Church; to be considered as at the head; to receive revelations for the Church; to be a Seer, Revelator and Prophet— having all the gifts of God:— taking Moses for an ensample. Which is the office and station of the above President Smith, according to the calling of God, and the ordination which he has received.
Second. The office of Assistant President is to assist in presiding over the whole church, and to officiate in the abscence of the President, according to his rank and appointment, viz: President Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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, first; President Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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Second, and President Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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Third, as they were severally called. The office of this Priesthood is also to act as Spokesman—taking Aaron for an ensample.
The virtue of the above Priesthood is to hold the keys of the kingdom of heaven, or the Church militant.
The reader may further understand, that the reason why High Counsellor Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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was not previously ordained to the Presidency, was, in consequence of his necessary attendance in Zion, to assist Wm W. Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

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in conducting the printing business; but that this promise was made by the angel while in company with President Smith, at the time they recievd the office of the lesser priesthood. And further: The circumstances and situation of the Church requiring, Presidents Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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and Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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were previously ordained, to assist President Smith.
After this short explination, we now proceed to give an account of the acts, promises, and blessings of this memorable Evening:
First. After assembling, we received a rebuke for our former low, uncultivated, and disrespectful manner of communication, and salutation, with, and unto each other, by the voice of the Spirit, saying unto us: Verily, condemnation resteth upon you, who are appointed to lead my Church, and to be saviors of men: and also upon the church: And there must needs be a repentance and a reformation among you, in all things, in your ensamples before the Chuch, and before the world, in all your manners, habits and customs, and salutations one toward another—rendering unto every man the respect due the office, calling, and priesthood, whereunto I the Lord have appointed and ordained you. Amen. [p. 17]

Editorial Note
As explained previously, Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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apparently wrote the entry for 5 December 1834 sometime between the meeting held that evening and the related meeting held the following day. This promptness suggests that Cowdery’s entry for the 6 December 1834 meeting was likewise written the day of that meeting or shortly thereafter. The blank pages between the 6 December entry and the next section of the history were likely reserved for further historical entries, but no similar contemporaneous entries were made here or anywhere else in the history.

Chapter 1.

5 December 1834 • Friday

Friday Evening, December 5, 1834. According to the direction of the Holy Spirit, Pres ident Smith, assistant Presidents, [Sidney] Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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and [Frederick G.] Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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, assembled for the  purpose of ordaining <first> High Counsellor [Oliver] Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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5

Cowdery had been designated the first speaker of the Kirtland high council at that body’s organizational meeting held 17 February 1834, after the members “cast lots or ballot, to ascertain who should speak first.” JS’s journal entry for 5 December 1834, also in Cowdery’s handwriting, states that the church presidency assembled “to converse upon the welfare of the church.” (Minute Book 1, 17 Feb. 1834; JS, Journal, 5 Dec. 1834.)  


to the office of assistant  President of the High and Holy Priesthood in the Church of the Latter-Day Saints.
It is necessary, for the special benefit of the reader, that he be instructed <into, or> con cerning the power and authority of the above named Priesthood.
First. The office of the President is to preside over the whole Chu[r]ch; to be  considered as at the head; to receive revelations for the Church; to be a Seer, and  Revelator <and Prophet—> having all the gifts of God:— having taking <Moses> for an ensample. Which is  Second.6

TEXT: Cowdery may have originally inscribed “Second” after writing “gifts of God” above, and then canceled “Second” and added the text after “gifts of God”.  


the office and station of the above President Smith, ac cording to the calling of God, and the ordination which he has received.7

JS’s early revelations identified him as a Moses-like prophet. (See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 66–68 [2 Nephi 3:6–25]; Revelation, Sept. 1830–B, in Doctrine and Covenants 51:1–2, 1835 ed. [D&C 28:1–7]; and Revelation, 24 Feb. 1834, in Doctrine and Covenants 101:3, 1844 ed. [D&C 103:16].)  


Second. The office of Assistant President is to assist in presiding  over the whole chu[r]ch, and to officiate in the abscence of the President, accor ding to their <his> rank and appointment, viz: President Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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, first; Pres ident Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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Second, and President Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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Third, as they <were> are sev erally called. The office of this Priesthood is also to act as Spokesman—taking  Aaron for an ensample.8

Aaron was chosen as spokesman for Moses. JS’s revelations earlier identified an Aaron-like role for Cowdery. (See Exodus 4:10–16; Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 67 [2 Nephi 3:17–18]; and Revelation, Sept. 1830–B, in Doctrine and Covenants 51:2, 1835 ed. [D&C 28:3].)  


The virtue of this the <above> Priesthood is to hold the keys of the kingdom of heaven,  or the Church militant.9

The “Church militant” refers to “the Church on earth considered as warring against the powers of evil,” as opposed to the “church triumphant,” the part of the church that has “overcome the world, and entered into glory.” (“Church militant,” in Oxford English Dictionary, 2:404.)  


The reader may further understand, that Presidents <the> reason why President <High Counsellor> Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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 was not previously ordained <to the Presidency,> was, in consequence of his necessary attendance in Zion, to  assist Wm W. Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

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in conducting the printing business; but that this promise was  made by the angel while in company with President Smith, at the time they recievd  the office of the lesser priesthood.10

JS later recounted that he and Cowdery received the lesser priesthood from John the Baptist on 15 May 1829 and that the angelic visitor instructed that Cowdery be made second elder, next to JS as first elder. JS and Cowdery were acknowledged in these positions at the organization of the church. (JS History, vol. A-1, 17–18; Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830, in Doctrine and Covenants 2:1, 1835 ed. [D&C 20:2–3].)  


And further: The circumstances and situation  of the Church requiring, Presidents Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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and Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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were previously or dained, to assist President Smith.
After this short explination, we now proceed to give an account of the  acts, promises, and blessings of this memorable Evening:
First. After assembling, we received a rebuke for our former low,  uncultivated, and disrespectful manner of communication, and saluta tion, with, and unto each other, by the voice of the Spirit, saying unto us: Verily,  condemnation resteth upon you, who are appointed to lead my Chu[r]ch,  and to be saviors of men:11

A revelation earlier in 1834 stated that the Lord’s people “were set to be a light unto the world, and to be the saviors of men.” (Revelation, 24 Feb. 1834, in Doctrine and Covenants 101:2, 1844 ed. [D&C 103:9]; compare Obadiah 1:21.)  


and also upon the church: And there must needs be a  repentance and a refor[m]ation among you, in all things, in your ensamples  before the Chuch, and before the world, in all your manners, habits and customs,  and salutations one toward another—rendering unto every man the respect  due the office, and calling, and priesthood, whereunto I the Lord have appoin ted and ordained you. Amen. [p. 17]
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JS, History, [Dec. 1834–May 1836?]; handwriting of Warren Parrish

10 Jan. 1803–3 Jan. 1877. Clergyman, gardener. Born in New York. Son of John Parrish and Ruth Farr. Married first Elizabeth (Betsey) Patten of Westmoreland Co., New Hampshire, ca. 1822. Lived at Alexandria, Jefferson Co., New York, 1830. Purchased land at...

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, Warren Cowdery

17 Oct. 1788–23 Feb. 1851. Physician, druggist, farmer, editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Married Patience Simonds, 22 Sept. 1814, in Pawlet, Rutland Co. Moved to Freedom, Cattaraugus Co., New York, 1816...

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, Frederick G. Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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, and Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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; includes genealogical and financial tables; 154 pages; verso of JS History, 1838–1856, vol. A-1, CHL. Includes redactions, use marks, and archival marking.
Large blank book composed of ruled paper printed with forty horizontal lines in (now faint) blue ink. The text block includes thirty gatherings of various sizes, each about a dozen leaves per gathering, and originally had 384 interior leaves cut to measure 13⅝ x 9 inches (35 x 23 cm). The text block, which was conserved in the late twentieth century, was probably originally sewn on recessed cords and was apparently also glued on leather tapes. The binding features false bands. The endpapers were single-sided marbled leaves featuring a traditional Spanish pattern with slate blue body and black and red veins. The block was bound to pasteboard covers, probably with a hollow-back ledger binding, making a book measuring 14¼ x 9½ x 2½ inches (36 x 24 x 6 cm). The boards were bound in brown suede calfskin. At some point, blind-tooled decorations were made around the outside border and along the board edges and the turned-in edges of the inside covers.
Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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began the text of the document on the thirteenth page of the text block, numbering it as page 9. Cowdery set aside pages 9–16 for genealogical tables for the members of the church presidency. He inscribed the page numbers, table headings, and column and row ruling for the tables in red ink with a quill pen. The content of the tables was inscribed in ink that is now brown with a quill pen, as was the rest of the history. Cowdery inscribed journal-like entries for 5 and 6 December 1834 on pages 17–20. Pages 21–45 are blank except for page numbering. Frederick G. Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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and Warren Parrish

10 Jan. 1803–3 Jan. 1877. Clergyman, gardener. Born in New York. Son of John Parrish and Ruth Farr. Married first Elizabeth (Betsey) Patten of Westmoreland Co., New Hampshire, ca. 1822. Lived at Alexandria, Jefferson Co., New York, 1830. Purchased land at...

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copied Cowdery’s 1834–1835 historical articles, published serially in the Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, onto pages 46–103. A passage that Parrish missed while copying the first installment of the Cowdery history is supplied on a slip of paper attached to page 50 with adhesive wafers. On pages 103–104, Parrish copied part of a JS letter, also published in the church newspaper. On pages 105–187, Parrish and Warren Cowdery

17 Oct. 1788–23 Feb. 1851. Physician, druggist, farmer, editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Married Patience Simonds, 22 Sept. 1814, in Pawlet, Rutland Co. Moved to Freedom, Cattaraugus Co., New York, 1816...

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wrote historical entries based on the entries in JS’s 1835–1836 journal. The genealogical table headings written by Oliver Cowdery, the letter headings and closings written by Williams and Parrish, and the datelines written by Parrish and Warren Cowdery are slightly larger than the ordinary script of these individuals. Parrish’s datelines also feature a vertical stress that contrasts with the oblique stress of his entry inscriptions. In their copying from the Messenger and Advocate, Frederick G. Williams and Warren Parrish often used a slightly larger script for words that appear in small caps in the printed version. Although pagination for the 1834–1836 history was inscribed up to page 241, the actual chronicle reaches only to page 187. Oliver Cowdery numbered pages 9–21, Frederick G. Williams numbered pages 22–58, Warren Parrish numbered pages 59–111, and Warren Cowdery numbered pages 112–241. Sometime later, Willard Richards

24 June 1804–11 Mar. 1854. Teacher, lecturer, doctor, clerk, printer, editor, postmaster. Born at Hopkinton, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Joseph Richards and Rhoda Howe. Moved to Richmond, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts, 1813. Moved to Chatham, Columbia...

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inscribed year and month-and-year headings in black ink on pages 17–20, 46–47, 105–173, and 176–187. Various pages also bear redactions in unidentified handwriting in black and blue pencil.
In 1839, the book was repurposed for the inscription of a new history. The book was turned over so that the back cover became the front and the last leaf became the first. From this new front of the book, JS’s scribes began writing what became the first volume of JS’s multivolume manuscript history (the first 61 pages of which are transcribed as “Draft 2”). That later history filled most of the remaining leaves of the book, running well into the blank pages that were numbered for the 1834–1836 history and up to within five pages of the inscribed entries in the earlier history. However, only numbering on pages 235–241 of the 1834–1836 history were erased (by knife eraser). With the later history’s side of the book upward, the spine of the book was labeled as volume “A | 1” of the multivolume history. Archival stickers were also added at some point to the spine and the inside front cover. Two interior leaves are now missing from the initial gathering of the volume and one leaf is missing from the final gathering. The flyleaves and pastedowns were also lost or removed from the book.1

See JS History, vol. A-1, microfilm, Dec. 1971, CHL. Only one leaf of the original pastedowns and flyleaves is extant. The pastedowns were replaced with undecorated paper in 1994, according to a conservation note on the verso of the extant marbled leaf archived with the volume.  


The volume shows moderate wear, browning, water staining, and brittleness. It has been resewn, rebound, and otherwise conserved.
While the 1834–1836 history was being created, the volume was apparently kept in the homes of JS’s scribes.2

See JS, Journal, 29 Oct. 1835 and 25 Jan. 1836 (see also entry for 29 Oct. 1835 herein).  


In 1839, scribe James Mulholland

1804–3 Nov. 1839. Born in Ireland. Baptized into LDS church. Married Sarah Scott, 8 Feb. 1838, at Far West, Caldwell Co., Missouri. Engaged in clerical work for JS, 1838, at Far West. Ordained a seventy, 28 Dec. 1838. After expulsion from Missouri, lived ...

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converted the book into the first volume of JS’s multivolume manuscript history.3

Jessee, “Writing of Joseph Smith’s History,” 439–441, 450–451, 464.  


In 1842, the church newspaper in Nauvoo

Principal gathering place for Saints following expulsion from Missouri. Beginning in 1839, LDS church purchased lands in earlier settlement of Commerce and planned settlement of Commerce City, as well as surrounding areas. Served as church headquarters, 1839...

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, Illinois, began publishing this later history.4

The serialized publication of this history began in the 15 March 1842 issue of the Times and Seasons.  


JS maintained custody of the volume through his later life, as indicated by a note he inscribed memorializing his deceased brother Alvin Smith

11 Feb. 1798–19 Nov. 1823. Farmer, carpenter. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Randolph, Orange Co., 1802; returned to Tunbridge, before May 1803. Moved to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, 1804, and to...

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, which was attached to the verso of the flyleaf preceding the later history. The volume is listed in the first extant Historian’s Office inventory, made in Nauvoo in February 1846 by clerk Thomas Bullock, and it is listed in inventories of church records made in Salt Lake City in the second half of the nineteenth century.5

“Schedule of Church Records. Nauvoo 1846,” [1]; “Historian’s Office Catalogue 1858,” 2, Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904, CHL.  


These and later archival records, as well as archival marking on the volume, indicate continuous institutional custody.

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